Dubai is planning to develop the world's largest shopping mall as part of a huge tourism and retail project, signalling the emergence of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from a three-year debt crisis.
The mega project includes a park located between Sheikh Zayed Road, Emirates Road and Al Khail Road on the outskirts of Dubai's downtown area, according to Dubai's ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The park will be 30 percent bigger than London's 1-square-kilometre Hyde Park.
The development, named Mohammed Bin Rashid City, would be built by Dubai Holding and Dubai's leading real estate firm Emaar Properties. Dubai Holding is a conglomerate owned by Sheikh Mohammed.
The proposed retail complex, including more than 100 hotels, is named the Mall of the World and is projected to host 80 million visitors a year. There will also be a family entertainment centre linked to the mall. Developed in a partnership with Comcast Corp-unit Universal Studios, the centre will aim to accommodate 6 million visitors per year.
"The current facilities available in Dubai need to be scaled up in line with the future ambitions for the city," said Sheikh Mohammed. Though he did not reveal the cost of the project, it is expected to be several billions of dollars.
The emirate, which developed the world's tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah artificial island, intends to become a prime business and cultural destination with its new development projects.
The plans also indicate Dubai's recovery from the debt crisis triggered by a crash in the property market three years ago. Property prices fell by 50 percent and state-owned conglomerate Dubai World was forced into a $25bn (£15.59bn) debt restructuring.
Nevertheless, Dubai's economy experienced an improvement in 2012, especially the real estate market, on the back of a tourism boom. Tourist arrivals increased by 10 percent, while hotel revenue rose by 19 percent in the first half of 2012.
Inspired by the recent growth, the emirate has also revived its stalled real estate projects, including a $1bn replica of India's Taj Mahal that will include a 300-room hotel, among other facilities.
Dubai International Airport is also undergoing expansion, in line with a projected increase in passenger traffic to over 50 million people in 2012. Traffic is expected to top 90 million in six years, according to Sheikh Mohammed.
"Our development initiatives concerning infrastructure in all sectors should be aligned with this growth rate and we have the determination to reach our objectives and be the first in the region to achieve them," Sheikh Mohammed said.